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Trade unionist Townsend remembered as ‘a fighter’
Former general secretary of the Communications Workers’ Union (CWU) Lyle Townsend passed away yesterday. He was 66-years old. He was one of the longest-serving members of the CWU, having served as general secretary for 25 years before he retired in 2007.
Townsend worked as a central office technician at the Telecommunications Services of Trinidad and Tobago (TSTT) and spent most of his adult life representing junior and senior staff of TSTT and its predecessor Telco, which he joined in 1968. It was during that time that he became involved with the CWU and was recognised as a leading figure in the trade union movement.
His colleague Vincent Cabrera, president of the Banking, Insurance and General Workers Union (BIGWU) remembered his colleague fondly. He said: “I remember him as a fighter, a militant who was always seeking the interest of workers and the union. His life is a testimony to the struggle of the working class.
“I think he led the CWU at a time when it had been taken out of a leadership that was not as progressive as needed, and brought a progressive genre of trade-union leadership to the CWU.” James Lambert, president of the National Union of Government and Federated Workers (NUGFW), was shocked to hear of his friend’s passing and sent condolences to Townsend’s family on behalf of the union.
“In terms of comrade Townsend, he has made a contribution through his outspokeness. He was not liked by everyone but he was supportive of the poor class of people, and the labour movement has lost a stalwart, as it relates to people who work on behalf of the working class. I hope the CWU would continue his legacy,” said Lambert.
TSTT also expressed condolences to Townsend’s family and friends. In a media release yesterday, TSTT recounted the firebrand trade unionist’s more than two decades fighting for the cause of workers in the industry. During that time TSTT stated that Townsend “became a central figure in the industrial relations landscape at TSTT.”
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